Indianapolis Monthly

Restaurant GUIDE

A TOUR OF THE CITY'S BEST DINING

DOWNTOWN

INCLUDES Fletcher Place, Fountain Square, Mass Ave, Mile Square

Amberson Coffee & Grocer

COFFEEHOUSE The cinderblock shell of a former service station houses this neighborhood coffee spot with grocery cases, outdoor seating under the awning, and a drive-up window. In addition to expertly poured vanilla-date lattes and a signature Summer Dandy with Onyx Coffee Ecuadorian espresso, plum reduction, and oat cream sweetened with maple syrup, the shop offers a small daily selection of baked goods, like a tasty “bisquet” grilled up with fig jam and butter, and a scone enriched with Asian pears and maple. Heartier fare comes in the form of an avocado toast topped with goat cheese crumbles or an equally fine toast with ricotta and poached nectarines. And while the $16 “damned fine sandwich” may try your daily lunch budget, the stack of Brie, Colby, fromage blanc, ham, avocado, and a unique spread of fig and pickled carrots on toasted Leviathan Bakehouse milk bread is worth every penny. 401 S. College Ave., 562-293-8962, ambersoncoffee.square.site

Bazbeaux

PIZZA As some of Indy’s most celebrated restaurateurs open pie places all over town, we haven’t forgotten where we first found artichoke hearts and goat cheese on our ’za. Bazbeaux has changed little since 1986, when it opened in Broad Ripple, and it hasn’t really needed to. Flat crust baked crunchy. Toppings you won’t find at Domino’s, like pine nuts and prosciutto. And the cheese—mounds of mozzarella blended with provolone and pecorino. 333 Massachusetts Ave., 317-636-7662, bazbeaux.com

Beholder

CONTEMPORARY A former car-repair shop just outside Woodruff Place sets the stage for daring performance art that has featured pig-skin noodles, and granita-topped uni designed to melt on the tongue, as well as buttermilk fried chicken with wildflower honey. The laborintensive cocktails are smart and spot-on. 1844 E. 10th St., 317-419-3471, beholderindy.com

Bluebeard

CONTEMPORARY Bluebeard opened in 2012, and crowds still roll in for chef Abbi Merriss’s take on seasonal comfort food, a category she dominates in town as evidenced by her vast collection of national media mentions and James Beard Award nominations. Start with the bread baked next door at sisterbusiness bakery Amelia’s—it’s especially delicious slathered with anchovy butter—and build your meal from the ever-changing menu of small and large dishes. Fried morels may show up on a spring picnic plate, while winter nights call for a comforting butcher-shop Bolognese. For a special-occasion meal, rent out the private upper-level dining room. 653 Virginia Ave., 317-686-1580, bluebeardindy.com

The Bosphorus Istanbul Cafe

TURKISH This cozy, colorful cafe inside a restored house in the Holy Rosary neighborhood has been one of our most consistent ethnic restaurants for nearly 20 years, introducing local diners—especially nearby Lilly employees—to the aromatic cuisine of the Middle East, Greece, and the Eastern Mediterranean. Silky, tahini-rich hummus is a must, alongside exemplary falafel, creamy eggplant salsa, and borek—buttery phyllo stuffed with feta and parsley. 935 S. East St., 317-974-1770, bosphorusistanbulcafe.com

Bru Burger Bar

GOURMET BURGERS The Cunningham Restaurant Group, based in Indianapolis and the force behind several of our hottest spots, revives the gilded burger trend to great effect, pairing patties that combine sirloin, chuck, and brisket with craft beers in a young and stylish spot off the Cultural Trail. The signature Bru Burger reinvents the bacon cheeseburger with Taleggio, sweet tomato jam, and porter-braised onions. 410 Massachusetts Ave., 317-635-4278, bruburgerbar.com

Cafe Patachou

CAFE The original Meridian-Kessler “student union for adults” continues to draw in the baseball-capped morning crowds and has inspired citywide offshoots, such as this sleek downtown location, a huge hit with the business and weekend hordes alike. The cinnamon toast is still as thick as a brick; the produce is still locally sourced; the massive omelets still have cheeky names; and the broken-yolk sandwiches are still a lunch favorite. 225 W. Washington St., 317-632-0765, cafepatachou.com

Chatham Tap Restaurant & Pub

PUB GRUB This energetic establishment with a warm, vibrant, pleasantly hectic interior blurs the line between neighborhood pub and restaurant. On any given game day (or morning), footie fans crowd around the TVs, enjoying pub grub washed down with a pint (or two) of beer. The fish “sarnie” (or sandwich)—a fresh filet blackened with lemon-pepper seasoning and served inside housemade bread—lives up to the hype. The range of burgers includes a highly regarded black-bean version as well as The Heartstopper, which is really two burgers topped with three cheeses, mushrooms, bacon, and a fried egg. 719 Massachusetts Ave., 917-8425, chathamtap.com

Chuck’s Coney Island

CHEAP EATS Natives of Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan will wax nostalgic at the offerings from Detroit native Charles Lovelady’s hot-dog walk-up. He and son Charles Jr. even drive up to the Motor City every few weeks to load up on authentic chili for their Coneys and piled-high cheese fries. But don’t discount the pair’s original creations, such as the three-cheese Boom Bang Burger layered with corned beef on Texas toast. Seating is limited, so be prepared to make off with your bounty. 2932 E. 10th St., 317-426-4945

Comida

LATIN FUSION Food truck–style fusion in the form of General Tso’s chicken tacos and char siu pork burritos are some of the tasty globally influenced choices at this counter-service spot. Breakfast scrambles and pastries from such local sources as Saraga International Market start the day alongside espresso drinks, and street-food favorites such as beef and chorizo empanadas, “flaming hot” cornand-mayo elotes, and Korean-inspired bulgogi nachos make great choices for lunch. 43 E. 9th St., 317-426-4392, comidaindy.com

Condado Tacos

TACOS This flashy Mass Ave outpost of the Ohio-based chain offers a paper menu of build-your-own taco options, from tortilla to sauces. Customers fill in the dots next to their preferred fixings, like the Firecracker hard shell, the housemade chorizo, and the Thai chili tofu. 530 Massachusetts Ave., 317-222-5999, condadotacos.com

Conner’s Kitchen + Bar

At this luxe, relaxed restaurant inside the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, a glowing wall of alcohol separates the dining room from the bar, and deep, allseasons sofas made for lounging sit on the sidewalk-side patio. Art-directed cocktails, like the Prickly Pear Margarita and the Peppered Paloma, elevate after-work drinks,

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